Awful Ratings, Record Profits: What's CNN's Secret?

From a media critic standpoint, CNN is a failure. It's stuck behind Fox News and MSNBC in the ratings and hyper-reliant on weird news, holograms, and newsy gimmicks.

From an accountant's standpoint, CNN is a huge success. It's set to make $600 million in operating profit this year, a record for the company.

And here's the ironic thing: The very shortcoming that media critics perceive in CNN -- its milquetoast, middle-of-the-road approach to news -- is also the company's passport to rip-roaring international revenues.

In May, Jeff Bewkes, the CEO of Time Warner, CNN's parent company, told shareholders the $600 million figure was linked to its international success. Though often under-appreciated in the States, CNN International, has its tentacles everywhere, as the Financial Times' Emily Steel and Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson reported last month. "Its global network CNN International, available in more than 265 million households across more than 200 countries, has reported record growth in audience and ad revenues this year," they reported ...

"CNN International accounts for 20 percent of CNN's global revenue, a spokeswoman says, or twice the contribution from US primetime ads," they reported. "About half of CNN Worldwide's revenues come from fees from cable and satellite distributors, which research firm SNL Kagan estimates will hit $17 billion in the US alone this year, up 9.3 percent from 2011."

Read the full story at The Atlantic Wire.


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